Why I Run: Side by Side board member Andy Inge shares why he supports LGBTQ youth during the Richmond Marathon
In December of 2009, I underwent a bad break up with my boyfriend of 2.5 years. In an effort to better channel my emotions and take my mind off of it all, I took up running 5K’s as a hobby with a friend.
In 2010, I stumbled upon a posting online for the Run For ROSMY. I had always wanted to give back to the LGBTQ+ community, but didn’t know how. As I had already signed up for the 8K, I decided that I would participate in the Run For ROSMY.
Soon after submitting my request to participate, I was contacted by Beth Panilaitis, the then-Executive Director, who was ecstatic to hear of my desire to help out. This event was something the Junior Board had just started and to receive a request from someone not at all already affiliated with ROSMY (now Side by Side) was what they had been anxiously awaiting and hoping for.
The experience was great for me, as it not only gave me a way to support the LGBTQ+ community, but also helped me better focus myself and take my mind off of my break up.
Participating in this fundraiser later provided me with the opportunity to join Side by Side’s Junior Board and then serve as the Chair of the Run For ROSMY Committee. I now serve as the Junior Board President.
While I was lucky enough to not to need Side by Side’s services and support growing up, I often say that Side by Side came to my rescue as an adult. Everyone at Side by Side was very welcoming and supportive. They took me in unconditionally and provided me with the support I needed while also affording me opportunities to learn and grow in our community.
At the time, they probably didn’t realize that they were helping me as much as I was helping them.
So why do I Run For ROSMY? I participate in this event to support our LGBTQ+ youth, to help them learn and grow, to give them the same opportunities I had, and to give back to an organization that has had a positive impact on my life and that was my saving grace in 2010.
It is an event that I have participated in every year as I owe Side by Side a great deal of gratitude for helping to pull me through that rough time.
Most of our participants do so for similar reasons or because they went through tough times as a youth and don’t want to see others go through the same things. These youth are our future. Life is a gift and everything we do, say, and experience make us better human beings. We all have those speed bumps along the way which test us and make us frustrated.
As adults, we have a better understanding of how we’ve learned from those things and why they were important to shaping who we are now, but as youth, we didn’t think like that. We were afraid and sometimes needed help to overcome obstacles.
Side By Side provides that helping hand, that comfort, those social interactions, and those life lessons. I believe that many of our supporters realize that and make every effort to ensure the organization can provide these, sometimes lifesaving, services.
Side By Side is a great organization that has been providing support, understanding, and most often a sense of family for LGBTQ+ youth in the metro Richmond and Charlottesville area for 25 years.
Side by Side has evolved over the years and now provides a middle school group, an alternative prom, and even received a recent face lift with its rebranding from ROSMY to Side By Side.
Ted Lewis, Side by Side’s current Executive Director, has been a great addition and has provided the same level of caring and support that Side By Side is known for.
As the current Junior Board President, I would like to thank all of our Run For ROSMY supporters throughout the years, both on the participant and donor side. I would also like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of the Last Run For ROSMY. If you wish to help, there’s still time! Please visit our webpage at www.sidebysideva.org to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of our Side By Side youth with the Last Run For ROSMY.
‘Agents of Change’ gives local LGBTQ youth the chance to share their stories at community forum this Thursday
The good folks at Side by Side (formerly ROSMY) are working with Sabot at Stony Point School to give local LGBTQ youth the chance to share their stories and answer questions at a community forum event happening this Thursday. We just got this in our inbox and wanted to share details – we’ll be covering [...]April 19, 2017
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